FA facing embarrassing scrutiny over whether they used the Rooney Rule

EXCLUSIVE: FA face embarrassing scrutiny over whether they used their own Rooney Rule in the process of hiring new technical director John McDermott

  • The FA are being asked whether they used their own Rooney Rule in a recent hire
  • The rule ensures at least one applicant from a BAME background is interviewed
  • John McDermott was announced as the FA’s new technical director on Tuesday
  • But it is unclear whether the Rooney Rule was followed by the FA in this case

The FA are facing potentially embarrassing questions from within their own organisation about whether they stuck to their own rules in the appointment of John McDermott, who was announced as the successor to Les Reed as the governing body’s technical director on Tuesday.

Sportsmail has learned that several members of the FA’s Inclusion and Advisory Board are demanding to know whether the executive upheld their commitment to apply the so-called Rooney Rule in replacing Reed with McDermott, who only joined the organisation from Tottenham as deputy technical director six months ago.

The FA introduced the Rooney Rule two years ago under which they committed to interviewing at least one applicant from a BAME background for all senior coaching and management roles, but it is unclear whether this procedure was followed in this case.

Former Tottenham academy guru John McDermott was announced as the FA’s new technical director on Tuesday

Les Reed replaced the long-serving Dan Ashworth but will step down as technical director

The position of technical director was not advertised, as it has been held by Reed since December 2018. Amid these concerns it is understood that several IAB Board members contacted the FA’s director of Human Resources Rachel Brace to demand clarification within hours of McDermott’s appointment on Tuesday evening.

The uncertainty over whether the FA followed their own processes and commitment to championing diversity is all the more embarrassing given the governing body are pushing for all Premier League and EFL clubs to sign up to a new Football Leadership Diversity Code, which could include quotas for BAME coaches, a project that is being led by the chair of IAB, Paul Elliott.

‘This is exactly the sort of appointment the FA are supposed to be fighting against,’ a source told Sportsmail. ‘We’re meant to be promoting openness and transparency, but this looks like jobs for the boys.’

To compound such awkwardness for the FA it is only three months since they became embroiled in a public row with the Premier League over the issue of diversity after chairman Greg Clarke accused the top-flight clubs of blocking Elliott’s promotion to the main FA Board.

Reed was appointed FA technical director ahead of Mark Warburton and Les Ferdinand (above)

The former Chelsea and Aston Villa defender attends FA Board meetings, but does not have a vote, and has been told it could take a further nine months before his appointment is formalised.

Reed was appointed as the FA’s technical director in succession to the long-serving Dan Ashworth two years ago following a lengthy recruitment process in which Mark Warburton and Les Ferdinand also made the three-man shortlist, with the latter interview fulfilling the FA’s diversity commitments.

The Rooney Rule was also applied when McDermott was appointed as deputy technical director last March, with former Birmingham City defender Michael Johnson also interviewed for the role. The 47-year-old was unsuccessful, but is currently working as a part-time coach with England under 21’s as part of the FA’s Elite Coach Placement Programme.

McDermott had always been earmarked to replace Reed, as was revealed by Sportsmail in April shortly after his appointment, but the FA did not make that clear at the time which has led to concerns about whether they have followed their own commitments to open and transparent recruitment processes.

FA chief Greg Clarke recently accused Premier League clubs of blocking Paul Elliott’s promotion to the main FA Board

A new Football Leadership Diversity Code project is being led by Elliott, the chair of IAB

Moreover, in the statement announcing McDermott’s promotion on Tuesday the FA strongly suggested that the disruption to international football caused by Covid-19 had led to the reshuffle.

Any attempt to claim that by interviewing Johnson for the deputy technical director role constituted an application of the Rooney Rule therefore, is likely to be strongly contested by IAB and other diversity campaigners, such as Kick It Out.

‘With the delay to international football meaning five senior tournaments will take place over the next four years and having completed a restructure of the technical division, Reed wanted to ensure a stable leadership team could be in place to drive The FA through this condensed period,’ the FA statement read.

The FA declined to comment.

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